Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
– Oscar Wilde

There are no two people in the world that are alike – no one would ever argue against that. Yet, in the workplace we seem to forget that we’re all different and focus on being alike. We emulate our leaders and imitate them out of aspirations to achieve their success. It’s surprisingly not uncommon for male employees to even buy the same suits as their boss! However, credibility and authority comes not from imitating our leaders, but from bringing something unique to the table. Having a strong and unique personal brand is essential to career success and no two brands are alike.

I had the pleasure of attending a workshop on building your personal brand as part of SAP’s Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program (LEAP), which is focused on accelerating the development of female leaders. SAP Global VP of Human Resources and personal branding enthusiast, Brigette McInnis Day, led the Personal Branding session and shared some tips and advice that has impacted me tremendously. Here’s what I learned.

What is a personal brand?

Brigette defined personal brand as how you package and present yourself to influence others’ perceptions of you. It is your buzz and what makes you “different, distinctive and memorable.” Your personal brand is a combination of your core values, personality, skills, strengths, and weaknesses.

Let me paint you picture. You’re on your way to a meeting. While your colleagues are waiting for you, one leans over to the other and says “Who’s Lindsey? I haven’t met her yet.” Your personal brand is their answer to that question. It’s how others describe you and what they say about you when you’re not in the room.

Your personal brand is impacted by your attitude and behaviors. Every interaction you have in-person, online, and through e-mail has the potential to change your brand in a positive or negative way. That’s why it’s essential to understand its importance and keep it top of mind.

Why it is important?

Everyone has a personal brand – whether you’ve taken the time to cultivate it or not. Did you know that it takes just 7 seconds to make a first impression? Just 7 seconds to portray your personality, accomplishments, and values. Just think about how many interactions you have in a day and how many new people you meet. Every single one of those interactions can impact your brand and they all add up to a collective picture of who you are, based on other’s perceptions. Because when it comes to personal brand, what matters is not how you see yourself, but how others see you.

A lot of pressure huh? It’s not all that intimidating if you take the time to develop a strong personal brand and you live it and keep at your core. It will help you feel comfortable in your own skin and confident, which will help you advance your career.

Just think, the higher you go in an organization the fewer seats there are at the table. Those at the table are those with strong personal brands that are well known in their company and industry.

In my next blog post, I will discuss how to build a strong personal brand. Stay tuned!

Do you agree personal branding is key to career success?